The new Apple Pencil stylus for the iPad Pro may be hard to find, but it isn’t hard to use. Its simplicity can be its downfall, however; when the Apple Pencil stops working, it can be difficult to figure out why. We’ve put together a list of the most common Apple Pencil problems – and their fixes.
It might seem like there’s nothing to be done if your Apple Pencil isn’t working right – after all, there are no buttons or displays. That simplicity is actually a good thing, as it makes troubleshooting pretty easy.
My Apple Pencil doesn’t work.
If your Apple Pencil never worked, you might not have paired it with your iPad, yet. Or you might have multiple iPads, and simply tried using it with the wrong device. To pair it with your iPad, pop off the cap, and insert it into the Lighting port on the bottom of your device. A pop up will appear on your iPad, asking if you want to pair the Pencil with this iPad; tap to agree, and your Pencil should start working.
Also, be sure that your iPad supports Apple Pencil in the first place – if you have anything other than an iPad Pro, you’re out of luck. The Pencil isn’t compatible with the iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad Mini 4, or anything older.
My Apple Pencil stopped working.
If your Apple Pencil was working, but now it isn’t, the first thing to try is tightening the tip of your stylus. Just hold the Pencil in one hand, and twist the tip with your other hand. You’ll want to tighten it by twisting it clockwise. Occasionally, the tip can become invisibly loosen, and the Pencil will stop working. Tightening this tip will usually fix the issue.
You should also make sure that you have Bluetooth turned on. If you put your iPad into Airplane mode, for example, you might not realize that Bluetooth gets turned off. Just swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring up Control Center, and make sure the Bluetooth icon is on (if it’s on, it should be mostly white, or lit up). You can also tap on your Settings icon, find Bluetooth in the list, and make sure that the toggle switch is on (it’ll have a green background).
If Bluetooth is turned on, but your Pencil still isn’t responding, you can might just be out of a charge. Most of the time, the iPad will tell you when your Apple Pencil is getting low on battery, but it waits until the Pencil reaches 5% before it pops up a notification to let you know. If you’re not within Bluetooth range when that happens, however, your Pencil can die and the iPad won’t be aware of it. Simply pop the cap off the end of the Pencil, and plug it into your iPad Pro’s Lightning port at the bottom of the tablet. Leave it to charge for a few minutes, and up to half an hour. Then, pull it out, put the cap back on, and try to use it. If the battery is dead, your Pencil should respond after charging for just a few seconds – Apple promises 30 minutes of use with just a fifteen-second charge.
You might try deleting the Apple Pencil from your iPad and re-pairing it. Don’t worry, this won’t delete any files, or any other work on your iPad that you might have done with your Pencil; it only removes it from your settings. To try this, go into your Settings app and tap on Bluetooth in the left column. On the right, you’ll see a list of devices with which you’ve previously paired your iPad. They’ll say either ‘Connected’ or ‘Not Connected’ depending on proximity and power status; you might see either label next to your Apple Pencil entry. Tap on the little circle with a lowercase i at the end of the listing for your Apple Pencil. A new screen will show, reading ‘Forget This Device.’ Tap on that and, if asked, confirm. Then proceed as you would for a brand new Apple Pencil – take off the cap, plug it into the Lightning port, and wait for the iPad to pair the stylus.
The last thing you can try is to reboot your iPad. Sometimes the Bluetooth radio on a mobile device can get a little mixed up, but a reboot will often clear things up. Simply hold the power button down until you see the screen change. Slide the power button to the right, and your iPad will power down. After it’s finished, wait a few seconds, and hold the power button down again until you see the Apple logo appear on the screen. Once the iPad finishes turning on, try using your Apple Pencil – if it still doesn’t work, repeat one or more of the steps above, since rebooting your iPad may have changed something.
If none of the above steps work, you’ll probably have to get a new Apple Pencil. You can take it back to the store you purchased it from, if new, or head into an Apple retail store where they’ll probably just exchange it for a new one.
I can’t tell how much battery life is left on my Apple Pencil.
Normally, when you pair a Bluetooth device with your iPhone or iPad, you’ll see a special battery icon appear next to the Bluetooth icon at the top of your screen – that’s the battery life for whatever you’ve got connected (usually a headset or headphones). With the Apple Pencil, however, that icon never appears, and instead Apple buries the option deep within your notification center.
To see how much battery life your Apple Pencil has left, unlock your iPad and swipe down from the top of the screen. Tap on the button that reads ‘Edit’, then pick the ‘Batteries’ widget to include on your Today View (just tap the plus icon on the left, and then move it up and down by tapping and holding on the three lines to the right). Once finished, tap on the Done button in the upper right-hand corner. You’ll now see a listing for Batteries, with your iPad and Apple Pencil both listed. You can check it at any time by swiping down from the top of your screen.
My Apple Pencil isn’t writing as well as it used to, or the tip doesn’t feel right.
The Apple Pencil is engineered with a tip that will slowly degrade over time, as harder materials don’t feel as comfortable when you’re writing or drawing on a hard surface like the screen of your iPad. As a result, Apple ships a second tip in the box with your Pencil. Just find your Apple Pencil box, and look for the second tip inside. Unscrew the current tip on your Pencil by twisting it counterclockwise, and keep turning it until it pops off. You can throw this tip away, and replace it by pushing the new tip on, then turning it in a clockwise rotation until it’s tightened.
If you’ve gone through your second tip, or threw away your Apple Pencil box without getting the free second tip out, you might be out of luck, as replacement tips aren’t yet available. Try stopping by an Apple retail store, or calling their support hotline, and explain the situation – chances are good you’ll leave with a new tip on your Pencil.
Did you burn through the list above and still can’t figure out what’s wrong with your Apple Pencil? Leave a question in the comments section below, and someone might have an answer!